Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Goods prohibited by law or treaty from being imported or exported.
  • noun Goods that are possessed contrary to law or rule, as in a prison or school.
  • noun Illegal traffic in contraband; smuggling.
  • noun Smuggled goods.
  • noun Goods that may be seized and confiscated by a belligerent if shipped to another belligerent by a neutral.
  • noun An escaped slave during the Civil War who fled to or was taken behind Union lines.
  • adjective Prohibited from being imported or exported.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To declare prohibited; forbid.
  • To import illegally, as prohibited goods; smuggle.
  • Prohibited or excluded by proclamation, law, or treaty.
  • noun Illegal or prohibited traffic.
  • noun Anything by law prohibited to be imported or exported.
  • noun In the United States, during the civil war, a negro slave, especially an escaped or a captured slave: so called from a decision of General B. F. Butler, in 1861, that slaves coming into his lines or captured were contraband of war, and so subject to confiscation.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To import illegally, as prohibited goods; to smuggle.
  • transitive verb obsolete To declare prohibited; to forbid.
  • noun Illegal or prohibited traffic.
  • noun Goods or merchandise the importation or exportation of which is forbidden.
  • noun U.S. A negro slave, during the Civil War, escaped to, or was brought within, the Union lines. Such slave was considered contraband of war.
  • noun that which, according to international law, cannot be supplied to a hostile belligerent except at the risk of seizure and condemnation by the aggrieved belligerent.
  • adjective Prohibited or excluded by law or treaty; forbidden.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun uncountable any goods which are illicit or illegal to possess
  • noun uncountable goods which are prohibited from being traded, smuggled goods
  • noun countable, US, historical A black slave during the American Civil War who had escaped to, or been captured by, Union forces.
  • adjective prohibited from being traded
  • verb obsolete To import illegally; to smuggle.
  • verb obsolete To declare prohibited; to forbid.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective distributed or sold illicitly
  • noun goods whose importation or exportation or possession is prohibited by law

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Italian contrabbando : contra-, against (from Latin contrā-; see contra–) + bando, legal proclamation (from Late Latin bannus, of Germanic origin; see bhā- in Indo-European roots).]

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